How is cheese made?
Cheese is made by separating the milk liquid (or whey) from the milk solids (or curd). This is done by gently heating the milk and adding a culture like bacteria or an enzyme like rennet that causes the milk to curdle. After the curd is firm, it is cut into small pieces allowing more whey to be released. The smaller the cut pieces, the dryer the curd will become, and the harder the final cheese will be. At this point, the curd may be heated again or stacked to drain off more whey, and salt may be added before the curd is placed into molds where it is pressed for a time to create an even texture. The cheese is left to age for a few weeks to 15 months or longer. Variations in this process are what produce all the different kinds of cheese.
What makes cheese hard or soft?
Soft cheeses are usually younger cheeses that have more moisture content, while hard cheeses have been aged for several months or years, losing more moisture in the process. For soft cheeses, the curd may be lightly pressed or not pressed at all during the cheesemaking process, while lengthier pressing results in harder cheeses.
Why are some cheeses stinky?
Cheeses with a strong, pungent odor – stinky cheeses – are made by smearing bacteria called Brevibacterium linens or B. linens on the exterior of the cheese, and repeatedly washing it in a saltwater brine to encourage the bacteria to grow. The bacteria help the cheese ripen and produces the strong aroma.